- Date published:
12:22 pm, May 11th, 2022 - 33 comments
Categories: australian politics, electoral systems, gender, International, MMP, political alternatives, Politics, Single Transferable Vote - Tags: Clive Palmer, teal candidates, UAP
The early voting polls have opened in Australia, so the election there is nigh. Reading on the election there has been interesting. Two things stand out for me. The weirdness of having marginal seats to a political geek from NZ. The burgeoning dissatisfaction and probable deciding impact of Aussie women on this election result.
Australian federal elections runs what in essence is a first past the post system, but one leavened by single transferable vote. The election party result is decided by the number of seats that the parties and a handful of independent candidates win. Voters vote for local MPs with two votes, their primary preference and their preference their candidate is too low on their primary preference.
This is quite unlike our MMP system where you vote for the party you prefer and the local candidate you prefer. In the NZ electoral system, the party vote is of primary importance because that is what determines the electoral. That effectively minimises ‘wasted’ votes to the people who vote for political parties that don’t met the 5% threshold and who don’t get at least one seat. It causes some other issues but, despite my initial dislike back in the 1990s when MMP was introduced, I find it preferable to the Aussie system.
It also minimises a lot of the game playing by political parties and by voters that I see in discussion in Aussie. For me, reading the Aussie news it seems like almost all of the political effort by Aussie political parties goes to a very small number of marginal seats deemed as being flippable from one party candidate to another candidate.
Virtually all other seats are just left up to candidates to deal with. They are also largely ignored by the routine rampant corrupt pork barrelling into marginal seats by political parties. That pork is both is obvious and heavily criticised by all observers. However it must work since, despite criticism and corruption probes, the political parties there persist in it.
The other feature of the Aussie system are the incidence of political parties that appear to be set up purely to do political vote rorts. The most obvious of these is the United Australia Party which appears to be designed to hit a world record of the highest political expenditure per effective vote received. In the 2019 election the founder Clive Palmer spent $60 million AUD mostly in political advertising.
The call for caps on both donations and spending was echoed in separate submissions by Melbourne University’s professor Joo Cheong-Tham and GetUp.
In the wake of the surprise Coalition victory at the May election, Palmer said he had “decided to polarise the electorate” with an anti-Labor advertising blitz in the final weeks of the campaign, rather than attempting to win seats for the United Australia party. In the final week alone, Palmer spent $8m in electoral advertisements.
The submission noted the party was reported to have spent $60m on a “contentious” campaign that failed to win a single seat but Palmer “claims to have secured the Coalition government’s win with his preferences”.
“That is double the expenditure projected for both the Australian Labor party and the Liberal party combined, and 167 times that of the Greens,” it said.
“Our constitution enshrines Australians’ equal opportunity to participate in our representative democracy, and yet currently billionaires can use vast sums of cash to buy a national platform that is well out of reach to the rest of us.”
The submission warned that without spending caps “we remain vulnerable to disproportionate political influence by those with the fattest wallets”.The Guardian: “Clive Palmer $60m election spend shows need for cap, advocates say“
You’ll note that Palmer explicitly stated that the focus objective in the last few weeks wasn’t to get into parliament. It was to nobble Labour by trying to divert the second preference voters away from Labour and to the LIberal/National party coalition. The UAP didn’t wind up winning any seats at the federal election in 2019. So far this election it looks like the new UAP is running a repeat campaign of outspending the other political parties and probably doing the same this election.
You could argue (and Liberals are), that a bunch of independent women candidates generally known as “teal candidates” who’d usually support the Liberals, but who are running in inner city against Liberal candidates are doing the same spoilers. Certainly they appear to have gotten the Liberal candidates and federal party somewhat upset. Some of them look like they’re likely to win the seats. They’re being backed by and endorsed by Climate 200 which is fund that helps climate orientated candidates.
What is interesting is that the supported candidates are mostly running against a Liberal party that is:-
The teal candidates are largely relying on preference voting..
According to Green, there are two magic numbers to watch out for in polling and on election night in seats where “teal independents” are running: 45 per cent and 30 per cent.
“I have a basic measure on this,” Green explains.
“If the major party candidate — and in most of these cases it’s a Liberal — if their primary vote drops below 45 per cent, then the sitting member is in trouble.
“And if the independent [candidate] is above 30 per cent, then this is the sort of rough equation: You are relying on a strong flow of preferences, maybe 70 or 80 per cent, which you often see in some of these seats from Labor and the Greens, and the sitting member is in trouble.”
“So that’s the rough guide — you have to get strong preference flows as well. But the lower they can drive the Liberal vote, the higher the independent can poll, so any time a major party candidate drops under 45 per cent in one of these seats, they’re in trouble.”ABC News: “Who are the ‘teal independents’? Your questions answered about the candidates fighting for some of Australia’s wealthiest electorates“
Basically I’d characterise the teal candidates to be people who’d have been great for an actual Liberal party, but are running against the misogynist, corrupt, climate-denying, family- unfriendly farce that is the Aussie party with that name. The intent appears to be to get some people on the cross-benches to kick the Liberal party for losing their vote and those like them. Annebel Crabb at ABC puts it quite succinctly…
For a year now — more — it’s been clear that women are cheesed off. They were more likely to lose their paid jobs when the pandemic hit in 2020 and pick up the extra unpaid work at home. More likely to be the one in the family who’s lying awake worrying about child care and aged care (both of which are also — not coincidentally — sectors in which women are more likely to be employed, and more likely to be badly paid.) More likely to be on the frontline dealing with frightened elderly relatives, or depressed teenagers for whom mental health assistance is hard to find.
Women voters reading budgets over the pandemic might have noticed significant spending to support sectors like construction and manufacturing in which they are less likely to be employed, and negligible assistance for sectors in which they are over-represented.
The signs have been everywhere that women are on the move. First literally, in person, when tens of thousands marched in protest at the treatment of women in the parliament. Then, when independent female candidates showed up to contest inner-city electorates on the issues of climate, accountability and respect for women, an army of volunteers materialised.
The institutional response of the Liberal Party to this onslaught of capable females has been to deploy traditional tactics, suggesting that the women are hypocrites, inexperienced, vengeful, or “groupies” — the puppets of a wealthy man.ABC: “For Morrison and Albanese, the decisive stage of the election has begun — and women may hold the key“
And this shows in the polls.
The pair of polls published Monday morning — Newspoll and Ipsos — suggest that the Prime Minister is struggling overall.
But there’s a deeper story; voting patterns by gender reveal a serious enthusiasm lag for Morrison among women.
Ipsos reports that among women, 51 per cent prefer Labor and only 32 per cent prefer the Coalition. When Newspoll asked respondents who was best placed to address cost of living, 45 per cent plumped for Albanese and only 38 per cent for the PM.
What is Morrison doing to address this suspicion from women? It’s actually quite hard to establish whether he thinks it’s a serious problem.
History is littered with men of Morrison’s vintage who wake up one morning to a Dear John letter, and realise that the women in their lives were serious about how annoyed they were. Is this one of those situations?ABC: “For Morrison and Albanese, the decisive stage of the election has begun — and women may hold the key“
Ouch. The next 10 days will tell.
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